WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's administration told the Supreme Court that the Affordable Care Act is invalid, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions.
Filing a brief late Thursday in a case the court is set to hear around the time of the November election, the administration said "the entire ACA thus must fall" because of a tax law change made by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2017.
The administration is backing efforts by Republican-controlled states to invalidate the 2010 law, which is being defended by 20 other states and the District of Columbia. A federal appeals court found part of the measure unconstitutional and left doubt about the rest of it.
Trump's presumptive opponent in the November election, Democrat Joe Biden, said earlier Thursday that the president would let insurers drop coverage for people with asthma, diabetes, cancer and complications from COVID-19.
Trump is trying "to strip health coverage away from tens of millions of families, and to strip the peace of mind away from more than 100 million people with preexisting conditions," Biden said at a campaign event in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Democrats hope to turn the lawsuit into a political anvil for incumbent Republicans this fall given the rising popularity of the ACA, which most Republicans have sought to repeal. On a media call Thursday, senior congressional Democrats said Republicans have no alternative to fully protect people with preexisting conditions or prevent tens of millions from losing their insurance.
The Democrats said it's especially harmful to try to overturn the law amid the pandemic, with tens of millions of people out of work and at risk of losing their employer health insurance.
"Republicans have universally said they are against the Affordable Care Act," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He dismissed Republican arguments that they support protecting preexisting conditions as "empty rhetoric."
Senate Health Chairman Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, in 2018 called the lawsuit against the ACA "as far-fetched a legal argument as I think I've ever heard" with almost no chance of succeeding.
The legal fight stems from a provision known as the individual mandate, which originally required people to acquire health insurance or pay a tax penalty.